Cyberbullying in Video Games

Bullying in the Gaming World

On any number of gaming sites or gaming consoles like PlayStation and Xbox, which have the option to connect to the Internet, bullying has become so common between players that one only has to do a simple search to find horrifying stories online about young men, sending disgusting and violent threats both verbally and through a private messaging system. Most of the games are set in war-ravaged scenes or medieval battlegrounds where players attempt to shoot each other.  This creates a hostile environment where players bully each other in order to maintain power and control over other players.

A lot of tension is induced among players and the higher their rank is, the more competitive they tend to become, fearing the loss of their edge over the other players. Women account for forty-nine percent of U.S. gamers, and twenty-five percent of U.S. gamers are under the age of twenty-one.

According to a 2013 study from Ohio University, when a female player in Halo 3, a first-person shooting game, greeted her fellow player, she would be called names like whore and slut. Verbal sparring on forums leads to harassment and abuse, putting young people at particular risk as they are growing up with advancing technology but lack the knowledge to deal with cyberbullying. Players with higher scores tend to be very protective of their gaming avatars (Internet representation of themselves), and if an online gamer has invested hundreds or thousands of hours into his avatar online character or position in a game universe, there can be a significant emotional attachment at stake.

A study by researchers at Simmons College published in the 2011 spring/summer edition of the Journal of Children and Media looked at the development of moral reasoning among children ages 7 to 15 and found that children who play violent video games believe that some forms of violence are acceptable or even right. That is not to say that they will all participate in bullying, but it is the individual’s attitude that matters.

This pro-aggression attitude promotes bullying and harassment. In fact, having feelings is not considered to be cool, so it becomes okay to indulge in hurtful expressions online, including racism, homophobia and misogyny. Gamers who spend a lot of time in their online avatars develop an emotional attachment to their online persona.

Methods of Attacking

1. Griefers-Players who choose specific fellow players to target in the game. They also engage in aggressive behavior outside the parameters of the game, sending threatening messages and posting aggressive comments on public forums.

2. Threats and Harassment-Any game connected to the internet allows players to contact each other through private messages, chat rooms or public forums. People with differing opinions or malicious intent use these to send explicit messages, threats or sexually harass other players.

3. Hacking-Stealing a child’s gaming password and hack into their account. The hacker can send negative messages to people on the victim’s friends list, virtually isolating the owner of the account from the other players with whom they have been playing. In addition, the hacker can lock the owner out of his account by changing the password and other details, effectively pushing the victim out of his game altogether.

4. Virus-Viruses are a real risk when it comes to playing games online. Because chat boxes are prevalent in these situations, bullies and other people who are looking to cause trouble online can post links and include codes that can lead to an infection on other users’ computers. While some of these links and codes are posted where anyone can click on them, some online bullies will target a specific player in the game and send this information privately in an attempt to disable or damage that person’s computer.

How to Protect Yourself

The problem has become so dire it has prompted major corporations to respond. Microsoft even created a new type of system for reporting player harassment and behavior for the Xbox One console. If you are being targeted, you can block certain users from interacting with you. Many companies provide a formal complaint process, through which users maybe be warned, suspended or banned. Potential bullies need to know that consequences exist, while parents should talk to kids about using technology responsibly and acting appropriately online.

If you see someone bullying in a chat room or other public forums, do not be a bystander. Instead take action against the bully, even if the target of bullying doesn’t. Today the target is someone else, but tomorrow it could be you.

You should talk to your parents if you are facing bullying in online gaming. However, if the bullying leads to rape threats or threats of bodily harm, you should consider police action against the bully.  For that, it is best to save all interaction through screenshots and give the folder to the police.


Written by, Ravneet Sandhu

Feb 1 2015 in Home Page, Whats New admin Comments Off on Cyberbullying in Video Games

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